Escaping the day in the Bleecker Street Cinema

These days at 144 Bleecker Street, you’ll find a Duane Reade. But quite a different world existed there between 1960 and 1990.


For 30 years, the two 1832 row houses at this address housed what used to be called a revival theater or art house theater—a place to catch offbeat, experimental, and foreign films before these categories were lumped together as independent cinema.

There was no surround sound or seats with cup holders. Yet the marquee in this 1960s photo looking toward LaGuardia Place hints at the treasures that awaited viewers who ducked inside to escape a dreary New York day.

[Photo: Robert Otter]

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7 Responses to “Escaping the day in the Bleecker Street Cinema”

  1. pinball29 Says:

    Love the old-style redlight/greenlight traffic signal!

  2. trilby1895 Says:

    I miss that place! Favorite memory – Bff and I went to watch “Desperately Seeking Susan” there and were blown away at the scene that took place in the movie IN the Bleecker St. Cinema!

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Very meta!

  4. Yurgis Says:

    For those interested, check out the Facebook page of The Bleecker Street Cinema:

  5. georgebeach Says:

    Loss of those theaters reminds me of the loss of the two in New Orleans, famous for their French cinema classics. But they were far more than that, really, playing all foreign movies that had little exposure otherwise the my old hometown during the Fifties and Sixties. I do not know what happened to them. There was also the Royal Art, which was little more than a large room with a setup for showing films, with folding chairs for seating. But it was where I watched all of Bergman and Rossellini, among other greats. Now I have Netflix. Hmmm.

  6. Jordan Lage Says:

    Saw a number of films there in the 1980s. The theater was almost always sold out. One film I remember seeing there in particular was Malick’s DAYS OF HEAVEN. Sold out. Back when New Yorkers were true cinephiles and kept places like Bleecker St., the Thalia, Theatre 80, St. Marks Cinema, et al in business until VCRs killed revival houses.

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